Recently The Daily Herald reported on United Nations Educational and Scientific Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) representative Himalchuli Gurung coming to the Dutch Caribbean islands and in particular to St. Eustatius. Gurung’s mission is to coordinate and give support to representatives on each island on safeguarding local culture through the Intangible Cultural Heritage (ICH) programme, as well as to provide policy advice and technical assistance. This ICH programme is implemented by UNESCO as a way for a country or specific region to examine and reflect on what cultural heritage is and what it’s not.
The Daily Herald reports now that on Thursday, a workshop was held at Eugenius Johnson Centre in Windwardside with that exact purpose. For a full day, chosen representatives of Saba and several initiators were present, each giving a unique presentation on Saba’s treasures. The morning started with a speech by Governor Jonathan Johnson. He mentioned that over the years several crafts and traditions have been lost on Saba. He expressed his hopes that it would be a fruitful day and that traditional Saban crafts, like Saba lace, would be preserved for future generations. A trip down memory lane was arranged by showing a movie made in 1984 about the culture of Saba.
Gurung then took the stage and started on her first presentation of the day. She said, “It’s not about protecting or restoring; this programme is about safeguarding culture on Saba. Culture is your identity.” In a personal interview with The Daily Herald, Gurung also emphasized that documenting cultural heritage can have a positive effect on tourism. When certain cultural aspects are being documented by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO), it will also be presented on its official website with videos, photos and text. “Many people look at our website to find interesting holiday and cultural destinations” Gurung said. Latoya Charles and Stacey Simmons were amongst the other speakers of the day. They talked about sustainable development on Saba and how the ICH programme is implemented in other countries.
After a well-deserved lunch at Scout’s Place, the team started a brainstorm session on what should be considered as intangible culture on Saba. Everyone agreed that Saba lace and Saba spice are going to be considered cultural heritage and also traditional music and performing.
In February, the Saba representatives will be trained on Curaçao. After that, Saba will still have an additional six months to decide on what to present as intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO.
I think presenting Saba’s intangible cultural heritage to UNESCO is a very great opportunity.
I am so glad this will happen and I look forward to learning how it will be done.